In the beginning of the world there were many, many people, and the people held councils to decide how things should be. There was one man, named Coyote, who always had something to say on every subject. At one council this question came up: “How and what kind of rain should be in the world?” One of the men said that it should rain in the form of lead balls, which would be very dangerous, and so when the rain came the people would have to stay at home. Then Coyote arose from his seat and said: “If it should rain nothing but lead it would be very dangerous for my people, because they do not stay at home very much, and as for myself, I might be carrying a big deer to my family to eat when the rain begins to fall and I would certainly be killed. I say, let it rain in drops of water. Then we can be caught out in the rain and get very wet, but we will soon be dry again, and the wetting will be good for us.” The people accepted Coyote’s suggestion, and so it is that it rains in the form of water. When the council was all over and the people went to their homes, Coyote made up his mind to go out and visit some of his...Read More
Collection: Traditions of the Caddo
Chicken-Hawk was a poor hunter and never succeeded in bringing his family more than a little mouse or some game that he had begged from another hunter. One time he met Eagle and asked him if he would not help him kill an antelope that he had seen not very far away. Hawk pretended that he had killed many such big game before, and acted as if he were being kind to Eagle in asking him to help him. Eagle said he would if he could have half of the meat. Hawk said that he could, and so they agreed to go hunting for the antelope the next morning. Hawk went on home, and when he arrived he told his family that he had shot an antelope through the head, but that he could not kill him, and so he had run him into a place for the night, and that he would return in the morning and kill him. Hawk arose the next morning and went to the place where he was to meet Eagle. They started on the hunt and hunted half a day. They found the antelope in the mountain. Eagle killed it, and then Hawk came down and they divided the meat. Eagle took his meat and went away. Hawk took his meat and went straight home to show it to his family, for he...Read More
A long time ago, when the animals were like people, dogs were noted for telling everything that they knew. In those days there were not so many dogs as now, but the best families always had a few hounds to take with them on the hunt. A man, Running-Water, who was a great hunter, wanted a dog to help him hunt, but he would not have one, because he hated to have some one always tattling on him and telling everything that he did. One time he saw four little pups and he decided to take one of them and try to teach him not to talk so much. He took the pup home, and every day, when he played with him, he would talk to him and try to teach him not to be a tattler like other dogs. The pup grew and was soon big enough to be taught to hunt. Running-Water began to take him out to hunt rabbits and small game. Every time the man killed any game the dog would sneak home and tell; then he would return to Running-Water in a circuitous way and come up to him from behind, as though he had been hunting all the time. Running-Water knew that the dog was trying to deceive him, and he whipped and scolded him. After each whipping he would stop running off...Read More
Ten boys lived with their grandmother. One day the oldest went out to hunt and did not return. The grandmother worried about him, and so the next day one of his brothers went to look for him. He did not return, and so the next brother went out to look for his brothers. He did not return and another went, and so on until the ninth boy went out, leaving his little brother at home with his grandmother. They waited long, but none of the brothers returned and no news came of them. They worried and grieved and became sadder each day, until at last the youngest boy declared that he was going to look for his brothers. His grandmother begged him not to go and leave her alone, for she felt that the same evil fate would befall him that had come to his brothers; but the boy was determined and prepared to go. He went out and prayed for help and put an eagle feather in his hair just before starting, thinking that it might have some hidden power. The boy traveled far, and after a time he saw a tipi. He approached the tipi, and as he went near he heard some one laugh and say: “Another one is coming. Cook some corn and we will soon have the meat.” The boy understood the meaning of...Read More
A long time ago there lived a man and his wife and a dog. At that time the animals talked like human beings, and so the dog talked to the man and woman. Every day the man went out to hunt, and as soon as he was gone his wife always went away and never returned until evening, just before her husband came. He did not know that she left home in his absence until one time his dog said: “I believe you ought to know that your wife goes away and stays all the time that you are gone.” The man told his dog to follow her the next time she went away. Early the next morning the man started out hunting and the woman left home as usual. The dog followed her, but stayed a good distance behind, so that she did not know that he had followed her. She went to the large timber and stopped at one of the large trees and stood there looking up, and then after she had stood there for some time she whistled once, and then again and again. The third time she whistled the dog saw something moving out from a large hole in the tree, and finally the dog saw that it was a big snake. The snake came down to the ground and went straight to the...Read More
One time the people broke camp and were traveling about looking for a village site. They traveled far until they came near the big water, and there they saw what they thought was a large rock. They decided to make their village near the rock, so they could use it as a dancing place. They had several dances on the rock, but not all of the people were there. One time, after they had been at the village for some time, they sent the crier to announce a big dance. All the people came and danced on the smooth, flat rock. While they were dancing they noticed that the rock began to move. They watched it and soon saw a big head and legs appear from under it. Then they knew that they were not on a rock at all, but on a big turtle. They tried to get off, but found their feet stuck tight. They cried and called for help, but the turtle carried them down into the water and drowned...Read More
In the beginning, when the people first came out of the earth into the world, Moon was the first man to enter the world. The second man was Tonin, and he was even greater than Moon and more powerful. He was only about four feet high and rode a bay horse that was no bigger than a dog. He had the power to turn darkness into light, and to wish for anything and have his wish fulfilled at once. If he wished to go a long distance, no sooner did he wish than he was there, no matter how far, and if he wished to kill any kind of game, all he had to do was to point to it with his forefinger and it lay dead before him. From time to time he disappeared and the people did not know where he went, until one time they saw him going as though on wings up into the blue sky. He was able to tell what would happen in the future, and so one time he sent the errand man to go out and call all the people to come to the meeting place, for he had something that he wanted to say to them. When the people were all assembled, he came and talked to them for half a day. He talked to them about this world in...Read More
A boy sat down on the banks of the river to rest after his morning bath, and as he sat there watching the sun come up and listening to the water and trees, a voice from some place spoke in his ear and said: “Boy, I have been watching you at your bath every morning. I know that your grandmother has sent you here every day in winter and in summer to plunge into the water, no matter how cold, that you might gain strength and become a strong man, hardened to endure. I have come to give you that strength that you desire, and even more.” The boy looked about him through the trees and in the water, but for a long time he saw nothing. After he had gazed into the water for a long time he saw slowly arising to the surface a man. The boy was not frightened, but sat still on the bank and waited. The man came close and spoke to him, saying: “Dive into the water four times, and as you dive always face the west.” After the boy had dived four times and again sat on the bank, the unknown person said: “I am the power of the Cyclone. Once I was so strong and powerful that I held all the Winds in my control, and all people feared me, but...Read More
One time when the animals spoke many languages, and yet understood one another, Bear and Buffalo met. They commenced telling each other about the powers that each received from the Father and when these powers should be used. Said the Bear: “Once upon a time I was a human being and lived like a human being, and went with the people from place to place. When they camped in the open, my family always made a camp near by in the timber or mountains, for we liked to climb the trees and play among the rocks. One night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was as you see me now, and I heard some one telling me of the many things that I had within my power to do. I was shown the place where I should stay, and I was given the paws and claws and the sharp teeth which I now possess. Then I dreamed that a human being was pursuing me and shooting at me with his arrows, and I knew that he was trying to kill me for food, as he does any other animal. I awoke from sleep and found that all I had dreamed was true, and from that time I have been as I am now. I left the people and began a new life in the mountains and woods,...Read More
One time the hunters went out on a two months’ hunt. They took their wives with them. After they had gone a long distance from home they camped. Among these hunters was a poor man and his wife who were hungry and starving, while every one else was killing plenty of game and having an abundance to eat. The poor man would go out to hunt from early in the morning till sundown and come home with nothing to eat. He continued to hunt day after day, expecting to find deer or some game, but always returned without anything. The people would not give him anything to eat and would make fun of the unfortunate man because he could not kill anything. One morning he arose early and started out and hunted all morning. About noon he heard some one calling him, and the person was a long distance away. He started to see who it was and what was the matter with him, and when he got there he asked the person why he called. “Well,” said the person, “I want to find out where there is water.” The hunter told him there was some water a short distance from where they were. He did not know who the man was, for there was no such person among his people. The unknown person asked the man to carry...Read More
A boy lived alone with his old grandfather. His mother and father died when he was only a baby, and there was no one to care for him but his grandfather. They lived together, and the old man cared for the child as best he could until he had become old enough to play around. The grandfather was looking forward to the time when he could make bows and arrows for the boy and teach him to hunt, but before that time came the old man died and the boy was left alone. He went from lodge to lodge and begged, and whatever the people gave him he ate and was grateful. At night he returned to his lonely lodge and cried, for he was poor and alone and afraid. The boys of the village came to his lodge to see him, and they teased him and laughed at him because he was sad and did not know how to play as they did. He was brave and did not lose courage. When he was larger he made himself a bow and some arrows and went out to hunt. He brought back small game at first and was happy, because he no longer had to beg. One time when he was out alone far in the timber he heard a voice singing and calling to him to wait. He...Read More
In days of old people knew the animals and were on friendly terms with them. All of the animals possessed wonderful powers and they sometimes appeared to people in dreams or visions and gave them their power. Often when men were out hunting and were left alone in the forest or on the plains at night, the animals came to them and spoke to them in dreams and revealed their secrets to them. The man who had had a dream of this kind woke up and went home. There he remained several days in silence, refusing to talk to any one, thinking only of the things that had been revealed to him. After a time he called some of his friends and the old men of the tribe to his lodge and told them of his powers and asked them if they would be taught his secrets. If they agreed the man taught them his songs and dances. After he had taught them all the necessary things they declared themselves ready to give a Medicine-Men’s dance, and gave themselves the title of medicine-men. Then if any one was sick in the village and sought the aid of the medicine-men they prepared to hold the dance in behalf of that person, that they might try their powers of healing on him. They built a large grass lodge, and the dance...Read More
In the beginning the people all lived in darkness. After a time they became dissatisfied and wanted light. They called a council to discuss how they could get light. Coyote was the first to speak, and he said: “We have had enough darkness; we must now have light. It is right that we should have both and not all darkness.” There was a man at that time who was a prophet, and Coyote said that he appointed the prophet to investigate and see how the people might obtain light. The prophet thought over the question and then reported: “There are yellow, black, spotted, half-spotted, and white deer upon the earth. These deer are here for some purpose. If you kill the yellow deer, everything shall be yellow all the time. If you kill the white deer, everything shall be white all the time. If you kill the spotted one, everything shall be spotted and very bad. If you kill the black one, everything shall be black as it is now. But if you kill both the black and the white deer, then we shall have day and night. During the day everything will be white, and we can go about and hunt and visit, and during the night we can return to our homes and rest.” The people accepted the prophet’s words and started out and hunted until they...Read More
The people and animals all lived together and were the same in the beginning of the world. After a time they became too numerous and there was not food enough for all. A council was held and the chiefs determined that some should become animals and live apart from the people and be hunted by them for food. Some of the people, who lived where the big fire had burned off the grass, were rolled about in the black ashes until they became black. Again they were rolled and then they took on the form of bears. Long pieces of white stone were put upon their feet for claws and in their mouth for teeth. They were given ten lives. When killed the first time, the second life was to arise from the blood that was spilled upon the ground, and so the third life was to arise from the blood that was spilled when the bear was killed for the second time, and so on through the other lives up to the tenth. During the first life the bear was not to be fierce, but as often as he was killed and passed to another life he was to become fiercer and fiercer, until, when he came to the tenth life, he would fight, and even eat, human beings. Some other people who lived where the long grass...Read More
There lived an old woman who was mother to all the pecan trees. She owned all of the trees and gathered all the nuts herself. When people went to her lodge she would give them a few pecans to eat, but would never allow them to take any away. The people were very fond of pecans and they wanted some for their own use, but the old woman would not let them have any. One time the people were very hungry and the old woman had everything in her lodge filled with pecans, but she would give them only a few when they went to see her and she made them eat them before going away. This made the people angry and they decided that something must be done. There was in the village an old man who had four little sons who were very troublesome and meddlesome. The people–they were the field Rats–thought that these four little boys would be the right ones to go over to the old woman’s house some night to try to steal some of the nuts. They chose the four boys both because they were small and quiet and sly and because they were such a nuisance around the village that they would be no great loss to the people if the old woman killed them. The Rats were willing to go because...Read More
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